Jill Capotosto

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September 18, 2015

Where are you – and what are you doing – on your PiA fellowship?

I'm in Hanoi, Viet Nam working for TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, as a communications officer. Though I am not tied to any specific project, I have mostly been working on our campaign to reduce demand for rhino horn among wealthy urban males in Viet Nam. I've been getting pretty cozy with inDesign and Photoshop, as well as the "track changes" function in Word.

Oh, and let's not forget-- you're one of our fabulous second-year fellows! What inspired you to stay for round two with PiA and TRAFFIC?

When decision time came, I couldn't imagine only having six more months in Hanoi. I decided to stay for another year for the professional development (I'm thrilled to be in a post that beautifully aligns with my career goals). I've made great friends who will also be around for most of my second year, and I've had a blast working with and learning from my coworkers, even though they tease me relentlessly. Also, I had no idea where I would go if I didn't stay.

Can you describe your experience in Asia thus far in three concise and varied words?

"Yes!!" "What?" "Huh."

What activities do you participate in during your spare time?

I have Vietnamese lessons every week, though I am somehow just now mastering ("mastering" here being used very generously) words that are in my very first page of notes. I dabbled in tutoring English and math, but that chapter of my life is pretty firmly closed. I like to run and do yoga, and I just started teaching a fitness class at my friend's studio. My trivia team ("Xe May Name") is a major player at the Sunday night pub quiz, and my roommates and I try to have a potluck at least once a month.

What is the most significant thing you’ve learned during your time on PiA?

I've realized the amount of autonomy I have over what I do with my life, and just how many directions I can take it. Maybe I would've learned this no matter where I went after graduating from 17 years of knowing exactly what I needed to do next, but being in Hanoi on PiA, I've gotten to meet a lot of people who have done and are planning to do amazing, fun and/or unconventional things with their lives.

What has been your most embarrassing moment in Asia? (So far … there will be more!)

I wrote a press release about a video that TRAFFIC was debuting. In the draft, I used a placeholder link for the video, just randomly typing xxx as the domain name. I sent the link to our partners for their feedback, which came back as bullet points that were either confusing or annoying. One that was both said, "Be more considerable giving an example of the link. I went to visit it and it turned out ashamed." I thought, "Whoa! No need to get mad at me for being disappointed when you click on what is obviously a dummy link." Eventually, I started wondering if there was an actual site connected to my placeholder url. Turns out there is. Turns out it is the definition of NSFW. Turns out she actually did mean "ashamed," not "disappointed." My next email was probably the most uncomfortable one I have ever sent. 

If you could invite three people, dead or alive, to come to a dinner party in your host city, who would you invite and why?

While initially tempted to invite three famous people, I've decided to go with the people I really want to share my city with: two of my college roommates and my sister. My brother would get an invite, but he avoids foods with MSG, so it'd be pretty pointless to drag him all the way over here.

What is one goal you have for the coming year with PiA?

Figure out how to network (and maybe even try to like it?).


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